Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Salt Culture

"Give neither advice nor salt,
until you are asked for it.
"
- English proverb.

"Society, my dear, is like salt water.
Good to swim in but hard to swallow.
"
- Arthur Stringer, The Silver Poppy.


You learn something new everyday but apparently I took the wrong elective.
Not in a million years could I have seen this one coming.

Get a load of this.

There we were right... chugging back the Tigers (RM20.00 for 3 large bottles) and waiting for everyone else to present themselves for the night.

Like I said in that last post, it was my buddy's birthday last night so a bunch of us went out to get drunk. Or at least, we attempted to lah.

Suddenly, P, one of my colleagues, walked into the cafe with salt.

Yes, salt.

Not one bag. Five bags!

You know... one of those little packets of salt, maybe 500gm?

"Why, man???", we objectively queried in unison with bewildered looks on our faces.

And he proceeded to hand the whole thing to the birthday boy.

Still, this phenomenon begs the question, Why?

A little background:

P, one day, was sitting with the birthday boy (or BB as we'll call him here) having some lunch.

Bear with me here....

As BB got his food, he ordered a saucer of salt to go with it. Which of course, he never finished. The salt, I mean.

And that wasn't the first time. Every single time, he orders salt to go with his food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Asian, Western, Middle Eastern, etc, etc, etc.

This of course, requires the mandatory verbal add-on of "Would you like more food with your salt?"

So....

The bags of salt P got BB last night was just an inside joke to BB's eating habit.

But we knew better. A bunch of Chinese blokes around the table. Oh, we knew better.

As Baron Harkonnen would say in Dune, "Plans, laid within plans that lie within plans".

Yer see, if you take the English word 'salt' and translated it into Hakka (our local Chinese dialect around these parts), you'd get something like,

(You ready for it?)

haam

Yeah. Try it on. It's sound a little like 'hum' except you gotta drag it out a bit.

And this word in Hakka, though it means salty, it can ALSO mean 'lusty'.

As in, 'Haam sap'. :)


***


Don't go yet.

Here's the other part of this salt-laden story.

In local Chinese culture, I've also learnt that as gift-giving goes, you DO NOT give salt to a Chinese.

Why?

Cuz it would mean, you're calling the gift-receiver a stingy, penny-fisted, tight-fisted miser.

Yep.

Because, if I give you some salt, I'm basically saying, "Dude, don't be a bitch. Spend a little and put some flavour into your food, man..."


Sigh.... beer and salt... (Shakes head)

What a night.

Oh, one other thing...

Contrary to what I said in my second last entry, I didn't get drunk after all.

Ciao, babes.

3 Comments:

At 12:31 pm, Blogger Fridaycat said...

alaaa...There goes your bday gift from me this year :D

and i packed it so nicely too!

 
At 2:10 pm, Blogger ElKay said...

hmmm well.... how bout just givin me some sugah then? heh :*

 
At 4:15 pm, Anonymous jaimieliew said...

salt plz?? haha...lol :p

 

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